Indians must slay another behemoth to advance
BOSTON -- There was a famous moment before the 2001 World Series when Curt Schilling was asked if his Arizona Diamondbacks would be affected by the mystique and aura of the venerable New York Yankees.
|ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe breaks down the American League Championship Series. Boston: Watch Josh Beckett and how well he's able to control his curveball in the first couple of innings in Game 1. If he throws it for strikes right away, he's usually really good. If he doesn't, Cleveland can eliminate that pitch and just look for fastballs and changeups. Throwing his curve for a strike has been the key to his postseason success. The Red Sox's pitching, for the most part, has been good all year long. But the one player who might deserve the most credit didn't throw a pitch, and that's catcher Jason Varitek. Last year, when he went down, the rest of the team missed his presence. He is like the NFL's franchise player -- he's the one player the Red Sox can least afford to lose. Cleveland: There was pressure on manager Eric Wedge to start C.C. Sabathia in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Yankees. Wedge did not panic, stood his ground and showed confidence in starter Paul Byrd. Not only did the Indians win the ALDS, but Wedge, by starting Byrd on Monday, now has his rotation in order with Sabathia and Fausto Carmona pitching Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS. Derek Jeter once said about Joe Torre that he only manages when he has to, and that's what Wedge did in the division series. The result will carry over to the ALCS, and he needs to be applauded for what he did -- and didn't do -- in a short series.|
Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He is the author of "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston" and "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball." He can be reached at Howard.Bryant@espn3.com.
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